Athlete: "Hey coach, I need some motivation for my workout today, what do you got?"
Me: "You are replaceable."
Athlete: "Cool, off to the gym, thanks Coach."
This was a text conversation I had with an athlete last week. Not every athlete is at a place where he or she can take this kind of brutal honesty, but if you are intentional about your relationship with your athletes then you will know when this kind of “tough love” is appropriate.
I believe a great coach spends at least as much (or more) time learning about his or her players as they do studying the playbook. Xs and Os are important, but not anymore important as those small moments when you ask your player about his or her family or about some event outside of sport that is important to them.
Be the kind of coach that is a student of students. Learn about each player and be intentional about growing each relationship appropriately. You are one of the most important models of how to be an adult, so model the behavior you want to see in the world.